GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – Microbial pollution is a key element of indoor air pollution. The passing of Hurricanes Irma and Maria has presented situations of mold in homes and other types of offices and buildings.
Mold is caused by hundreds of species of bacteria and fungi, growing indoors with sufficient moisture available. Mold can cause health problems associated with building moisture and biological agents. One could see an increase in respiratory symptoms, allergies and asthma.
Molds produce allergens (substances that can cause allergic reactions) and irritants. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Allergic responses include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, throat and lungs, red eyes, and skin rash.
The Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labour, recommends to the community to take immediate measures to control mold.
The best way to control mold growth is to control moisture. Molds produce tiny spores to reproduce, just as some plants produce seeds. These mold spores can be found in both indoor and outdoor air, and settled on indoor and outdoor surfaces.
When mold spores land on a damp spot, they may begin growing and digesting whatever they are growing on in order to survive. Since molds gradually destroy the things they grow on, you can prevent damage to building materials and furnishings and save money by eliminating mold growth.
Molds need both food and water to survive; since molds can digest most things, water is the factor that limits mold growth. Molds will often grow in damp or wet areas indoors.
If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by: Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside; Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers; Increasing ventilation; Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning; Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.